Kass Naidoo

Green revolution grips SA

2007-10-19 10:58

Kass Naidoo

A green revolution is taking South Africa by storm, and even those who aren't ardent rugby supporters have been happily caught up in the festivities, as the Springboks prepare to battle England in the Rugby World Cup final.

In the midst of RWC mania, all 38 000 tickets for next weekend's Currie Cup final between, would you believe it, the Lions and the Cheetahs, have been sold out. One thing's for sure, those who market rugby can teach other sports in South Africa a thing or two about creating real hype.

The poor state of first class cricket continues to be a hot talking point among fans, but I'd still like to disagree with those comments which suggested that the SuperSport Series can never be revived.

Until every avenue to promote four-day cricket has been exhausted, we can't give up and assume that it's not commercially viable. Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has gone on record asking why it is that sponsors want to know what they can get out, as opposed to what they can put in.

Last August when I quit my week daily sports radio show on SAfm to launch an initiative aimed at raising the profile of women in sport, many laughed, saying I was wasting my time because "women's sport is dead".

I took a chance and over a year later, we are seeing tangible change in the way the media are treating our female sports stars. I know it's a long journey to reverse the situation, but it's not impossible.

Genuine support

And that's the attitude I'd like to see from those who have a vested interest in provincial cricket. The situation is unlikely to improve if attitudes stay the same. As Niels from Somerset West was at pains to explain to me via email, all six franchises need to seriously consider strategies to refresh their brands and increase the appeal of their products.

If we want to continue producing quality Test cricketers, we can't expect the first class structure just to exist without genuine support and interest in improving its image, and with the excuse that nothing will change. We're in the era where the success of every product relies heavily on how it is branded.

There is a huge opportunity for a sponsor (or an inspired group of them) willing to look further than 2010, personal gain or corporate strategy, to bring a version of a well-loved game back into our lounges, to create a buzz big enough to guarantee the interest of the national broadcasters.

But this will require three ingredients: A key focus on inspired planning, a significant marketing budget, and the will to make it happen. Fold in, stir, add a little South African heat, and the possibility of another cricketing success story is not that far away.

South Africa is sports crazy, and there couldn't be a better time for corporates of all shapes and sizes to find a niche, and get involved in improving the state of sport in the country. No doubt a Springbok win over England will go a long way to reuniting this country.

Go Bokke!

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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